Paving streets, repairing sidewalks, building the new Louisville Urban League's Sports and Learning Complex and finishing the Northeast Library are just a few projects put on hold after a Metro Council vote last week.
“Is it the council's desire to spend $83 million in debt for [fiscal year’s] 2019 capital budget?” asked Chief Financial Officer Daniel Frockt.
“Again, that needs to be debated,” Anthony Piagentini said.
“And that's why it's on hold,” Frockt answered.
That was just some of the back and forth in a contentious conversation among the Metro Council Monday night.
“Because this Mayor has said we're in crisis, if there's any way, in crisis, we can rethink some of what we've done,” Budget Committee Chairman Kevin Kramer proposed.
The special meeting was called after Metro Council suspended work on all projects last week that were to be funded by a bond ordinance they had previously passed.
At the Urban League, President and CEO Sadiqa Reynolds is on pins and needles about her project: The Sports and Learning Complex
“We thought that was a done deal, and so it gets really confusing. I mean confusing as in costing millions of dollars, not some little bit,” she said.
Councilman Bill Hollander voted against the suspension of that bond ordinance.
“People should be able to rely on their government and last June we took votes, nearly unanimously these projects were approved, and I think out of sort of panic, saying no we're not going to fund them now is just the wrong thing to do,” he explained.
Councilman Kramer argued that it's not about shutting those projects down, just slowing them down.
“Are there still things in that bond that haven't been spent yet, that maybe we could kind of pullback in?” he asked. “Surely, we can slow down on that bond and just say, is there an opportunity for savings there?”
City leaders are looking for ways to deal with a $65 million budget gap over the next four years.
The mayor has proposed an increase on insurance premium taxes, saying the other option is major cuts across the board.
Council members began negotiating the old-fashioned way, by scribbling their own totals on a board with numbers reflective of how high of a tax increase they're willing to support, and how much spending each is willing to cut.
“The cuts are going to be painful and dramatic if we cut $35 million dollars out of the budget. We are in a very bad situation in terms of timing. Nobody likes it,” Hollander said.
If that tax increase is to go into effect this year, a vote is required by the March 21.